More developed cities in Brazil saw slower transmission rates of HIV/AIDS during the early years of the epidemic there, according to a recent study by researchers from the Georgia State University School of Public Health.
The findings of the study support the belief that socio-demographic factors, such as population density, migration and wealth inequality affect how rapidly infectious diseases spread.
“The concentration of an economically deprived population in rundown areas can form a spatial contact structure that facilitates risky behaviors (e.g. needle-sharing, sex trade, multiplex relationships) of HIV/AIDS transmission,” the researchers stated.
To characterize the early growth patterns of the AIDS epidemic in Brazil, the team of researchers studied annual AIDS incidence data from 1982 to 1999, collected at the national, regional and state levels by the department of informatics of the Brazilian Health System. The team also used socio-demographic data from 27 Brazilian states, including population density, degree of urbanization and wealth distribution.
The results of the study are published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology in the article “Growth scaling for the early dynamics of HIV/AIDS epidemics in Brazil and the influence of socio-demographic factors.” The study’s lead author is Ms. Linh Dinh, a public health Ph.D. student at Georgia State.
“Our findings support the notion that socio-demographic factors contribute to shaping the early growth dynamics of the epidemic at the local level,” the researchers stated. Their results showed that greater urbanization was positively associated with the epidemic’s deceleration.
Brazil identified its first AIDS case in 1982, during a time when the country was transforming politically from an authoritarian military dictatorship to a democratic government. During this transformation, Brazil improved its response to the AIDS epidemic, establishing its National AIDS Program in 1986 and universal provision of antiviral drugs in 1996, the researchers noted.
“Infectious diseases represent one of the most important threats to humans. Thus, a better understanding of the factors that drive the epidemic growth dynamics during the first few generations of the disease transmission is needed to construct more accurate mechanistic models, and in turn, generate improved disease forecasts,” the researchers said.